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Darling to Attack Cameron as Economy Slips From Election Agenda

Alistair Darling, U.K. chancellor of the exchequer
Alistair Darling, U.K. chancellor of the exchequer, walks between buildings during the IMF-World Bank spring meetings in Washington, on April 24, 2010. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling will say today that David Cameron lacks the right instincts to manage Britain’s economy, telling voters the Conservative Party leader made the wrong calls during the financial crisis.

Darling’s speech in Edinburgh will mark an attempt by the ruling Labour Party to move the economy back to the center of the May 6 election campaign, which has been dominated by discussion of how the U.K. will be governed if no party gains a majority in Parliament, as polls suggest.

“It’s not their youth and inexperience that worries me about the Tory leadership,” Darling will say, according to excerpts from the speech released by Labour. “It is their values, their instincts and their dangerous policies. It gives me no pleasure to say it, but I was right -- and they were wrong.”

Darling will say that Cameron largely opposed his decisions to stimulate demand, protect workers and underpin the banking system as the financial crisis triggered the worst recession in six decades. The comments will come a day before the last of three televised debates, in which Cameron will spar with Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg over the economy.

Darling will appeal to voters to judge Labour on its record and give it another chance to govern for a fourth successive term. He will say Cameron’s plans to cut Britain’s record budget deficit more aggressively than Labour will endanger the recovery. The economy expanded by 0.2 percent in the first quarter, according to figures published last week.

‘Misguided, Unfair’

“It’s why I feel so strongly of the risks ahead, the damage that can be done by following Tory policies which are misguided, unfair and put ideology above our country’s needs,” Darling will say.

Philip Hammond, a Conservative who speaks on Treasury matters, said yesterday that Labour’s plans would saddle households with an extra 220 pounds ($336) a year in taxes than if it wins the election.

The deficit, at more than 11 percent of gross domestic product, is the largest in the Group of Seven. The Conservatives, who have pledged to go further and faster than Labour and the Liberal Democrats to cut the shortfall, last week said the International Monetary Fund might need to bail out the U.K. if the vote produces an indecisive result.

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